How Havana is enjoying Chinese culture

World Today

Every year, Havana’s Chinatown celebrates Spring Festival. The party includes street performances of traditional lion-and-dragon dances. Most performers are young Cubans with an interest in Chinese culture.

CGTN’s Michael Voss reports.

How Havana is enjoying Chinese culture

How Havana is enjoying Chinese culture

Every year, Havana’s Chinatown celebrates Spring Festival. The party includes street performances of traditional lion-and-dragon dances. Most performers are young Cubans with an interest in Chinese culture. CGTN’s Michael Voss reports.

China’s Spring Festival is an opportunity for Cubans to enjoy a taste of traditional Chinese culture. The annual street event took place in the heart of Havana’s Chinatown, which in its prime was one of the largest in Latin America. These days, though, almost all of the performers are Cuban.

Most are members of the Wushu or Kung Fu Academy located in the heart of Chinatown. It’s always packed with classes for children and adults, while in the mornings, the elderly practice Tai Chi. There are similar centers all over the island.

It isn’t just the martial arts; Cubans also come to learn traditional dances such as the fan dance, which is regularly performed for Chinese New Year.

Tens of thousands of Chinese men emigrated to Cuba in the 19th century to work on the plantations. Many intermarried here. Later came wealthier merchants and businessmen, though most left after the revolution.

Today, Chinatown is a shadow of its former glory, a mixed neighborhood in a rundown part of central Havana.

Very few ethnic Chinese Cubans remain in Cuba but there is no shortage of interest the culture and heritage they brought with them.

In the day we visited the Wushu school, these young Cubans had a dress rehearsal for another popular New Years event, the dragon dance. Some in the group have been learning and practicing the movements and skill sets for the past eight years.

There may not be many Chinese Cubans left on the island, but some of their traditions have now firmly taken root.